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What can I plant to provide privacy AND function

 
Posts: 4
Location: Arkansas
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I'm on 2 acreas in a ruralish area. I want to convert my lawn to food, but I want some privacy in the garden. My yard 100' x 75' with the long side being on the road. I thought about planting bamboo. I've used it in the past for trellising, and I'm always thinking of uses for it and wishing I had some. However, it seems less practical to plant bamboo when I already have access to over 1.5 acres of woods. (BTW I am well aware of the risks of planting bamboo, and I would plant with some kind of barrier. )

Is there another plant that will provide privacy while perhaps giving food? I would like to be able to benefit from this living screen within a year or two, as I do not know how long we will be at this property.

Thanks!
 
gardener
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Location: Southern Illinois
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Hi Shai,

I have a living hedge that I trim up every year or two in order to make woodchips.  I own about 3 acres of woodland and 6 acres open, but I just cannot bring myself to haul much in the way of wood out of my woods.  But my hedgerow is actually invasive and needs trimming to prevent it from taking over my grass lands.

I guess I am thinking that your bamboo is more multi functional than you might think.

You could plant sweetshoot bamboo and eat the early shoots while you control the growth.

Another hedge that comes to mind are blueberry bushes.  They grow about 6’ tall, look beautiful and give you plenty of berries.

These are just a couple of thoughts,

Eric
 
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7 AHS:4 GDD:3000 Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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Privet


Check out some other ideas, let me know which one you like the best.
https://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/the-best-10-plants-to-grow-for-backyard-privacy-50057#arborvitae-hedge-in-the-backyard
 
Shai Jacob
Posts: 4
Location: Arkansas
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Eric Hanson wrote:Hi Shai,

I have a living hedge that I trim up every year or two in order to make woodchips.  I own about 3 acres of woodland and 6 acres open, but I just cannot bring myself to haul much in the way of wood out of my woods.  But my hedgerow is actually invasive and needs trimming to prevent it from taking over my grass lands.

I guess I am thinking that your bamboo is more multi functional than you might think.

You could plant sweetshoot bamboo and eat the early shoots while you control the growth.

Another hedge that comes to mind are blueberry bushes.  They grow about 6’ tall, look beautiful and give you plenty of berries.

These are just a couple of thoughts,

Eric



Thanks Eric. I checked out your Bamboo suggestion, and it looks promising. We are fortunate to have many huckleberry bushes around us. But your post did broaden my perspective. I started remembering how much I love to eat rosehips. I think we could start eating from them the 2nd year, like blueberries. Any tips on roses?
 
Shai Jacob
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Location: Arkansas
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S Bengi wrote:Privet


Check out some other ideas, let me know which one you like the best.
https://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/the-best-10-plants-to-grow-for-backyard-privacy-50057#arborvitae-hedge-in-the-backyard



Thanks Bengi. I do love the smell of Privet, and I love that it grows fast and offers great privacy. I will keep it in mind, though I'm looking for something that offers a second use for us, such as food or fuel or building materials.
 
S Bengi
pollinator
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Grape
 
master pollinator
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Just another suggestion.  I wouldn't get caught up on the idea that you have to plant one thing. You can make a really useful and beautiful hedge by mixing species, or by taking S Bengi's idea of using privet, and then make a mixed species row directly inside it.  I don't know enough about bamboo to comment on that.

I'm creating a living fence right now that started with a row of Osage Orange as the main fence, but inside that with be a mixed species where the trees and bushes will be more randomly placed.  More diversity means more type of food species, as well as creating a much better habitat area for small creatures.
 
pollinator
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Are you looking for evergreens? That makes it harder to get food off of them, but beach where the leaves cling all winter is pretty close and the young leaves in the spring are edible and taste nice. a very dense hedge of hawthorn or something similar will give some privacy all year round and provide leaves, flowers and berries.
 
master steward
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Maybe several different shrubs together might work.

My suggestion would be rosemary.  I have it growing with roses.  Right now they are both the same height.

I liked the bamboo suggestion.  I have never grown it but love the look of it.

Another shrub that I like is both beautiful and useful is sumac.  I have not grown it and have only seen it growing wild.





https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumac



https://www.thekitchn.com/inside-the-spice-cabinet-sumac

Ground sumac is a versatile spice with a tangy lemony flavor, although more balanced and less tart than lemon juice. A small sprinkle also adds a beautiful pop of color to any dish

 
Eric Hanson
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Shai,

I am afraid I cannot help you with rose hips.  But an idea I like (and if you can get away with it) is a mixed hedge.  This could be one that provides privacy, wood, food, habitat for animals and possibly more.  My hedge provides all of these except food (though there were some wild blackberries that provided the most wonderful, sweet fruit).

I really love my hedge.  It was barely a hedge (1’ wide by about 3’ tall) when I moved in.  15 years later it is 10-20 feet wide by 30’ tall and is a highway for deer.

Eric
 
pollinator
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Berberis is evergreen, has edible berries, and makes a nice hedge.  We don't really eat the berries off ours, though our chickens enjoy self-harvesting (the berries taste fine, but are small and seedy).  It's also great for birds and has beautiful flowers in spring.  I like it even better than the laurels we also have, which are also evergreen with sweet smelling flowers and very tolerant of trimming, though not edible.
 
Posts: 408
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You might consider two rows; a row of evergreens and a row of mixed edibles. Apples, peaches, nuts, grapes. What you like. I'm thinking that a row of bamboo in time will take up more space than the double row. Don't plant evergreens that will grow immense, like I have here.
 
pollinator
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A standard permie answer is anything from the elaeagnus family.  https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Elaeagnus+x+ebbingei is evergreen, mostly non-invasive, and the berries are supposed to be nice.  Mine are finally getting big enough to block my annoying neighbor but I haven't seen berries yet.  Maybe this year!  Also, it's survived in an area that has so far killed:  Camellia japonica and sinensis, pineapple guava, other elaeagnuseseses, and probably other things I've blocked out.  So I will take nice silvery leaves at least.

If you're thinking of a mixed hedge, maybe drop in a few camellias.  The sinensis leaves are your standard tea leaves, and while I believe the japonica leaves don't contain caffeine, you can make tea from them or eat the flowers.  The japonicas also bloom in winter, which is a nice gloom-brightener.
 
Shai Jacob
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Location: Arkansas
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Thank you all for the ideas. I'll be mulling them over for the next couple of months until fall. I should have mentioned that I'm in zone 7. We have a deep silty loam. The area is very wet in the spring until about May. Every so often we have a drought summer, and even when we don't the ground dries up in the summer. So I need something that can tolerate both wet soil and drought. It doesn't have to be evergreen, though I like the idea of layering in an evergreen. Also, i'm planning to move, (though I don't know if that's next year or 5 years from now). So, it would be nice to have something I can get cuttings or transplants for my new property which will be in the Ozarks, a soil that tends to be rocky and dry. That makes it tough. Sometimes, you just can't have everything, right?
 
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